Wednesday, April 20, 2011

On Anniversary of Deep Horizon Disaster, BP Creates Culinary Division to Sell Turtle Meat

CHALMETTE, La.-- BP took a $40.9 billion loss in 2010 related to the Deep Horizon oil spill, including $13.6 billion for the initial response. Share prices plummeted to multi-year lows over growing uncertainty regarding potential liabilities (estimated at more than $100 billion), which raised fears of bankruptcy. Now, add abysmal stock prices to the $20 billion escrow fund and BP’s clean up tab, and you begin to realize how quickly deep pockets run shallow. By the time the well was capped 87 days later, 206 million gallons of oil had gushed into the Gulf of Mexico.

It has become a daunting, if not impossible, task to try calculating the financial hardships BP may be facing in the foreseeable future. To further complicate matters, the State of Louisiana has filed its most extensive complaint yet against the parties involved in the rig explosion, which occurred one year ago today. With BP shares now trading at historic lows, the company must find other revenue sources if it hopes to remain in business. Analysts there say they have.

Silver Lining for a Black, Oily Cloud
To every cloud, the saying goes, is a silver lining. Contextually speaking, it would also be fair to say that for every oil slick there is a silvery, albeit greasy, sheen. BP executives say they have found their salvation by employing wildly out-of-the-box thinking. The strategy is both ingenious and alarming: British Petroleum is creating a culinary division to generate a new source of income through gourmet foods. The affiliate company is tentatively titled “British Potluck,” which replaces the initial brand name “Beyond Provisions” suggested by Marketing last week.

“By exploiting the newly discovered resources available to us through our clean up efforts in the Gulf,” said Andrew Sligney, an executive involved in overseeing Exploration and Production, “we can take BP to the next level while giving back to the people whose shores we’ve sullied. We’re going to begin distributing rare delicacies long sought after in this region of the United States. And, at discounted prices.”

The fancy feast? Turtle meat, to be precise. Southern epicureans have cherished dishes such as turtle soup throughout the region’s history. In New Orleans, for example, turtle soup has been a specialty of several neighborhood and classic Creole restaurants, including Commander’s Palace, Brennan’s and Galatoire’s, to name a few. Turtle soup was also U.S. President William Howard Taft’s favorite food. He brought a chef into the White House for the specific purpose of preparing this dish. But turtle flesh has traditionally proven to be both expensive and difficult to procure. BP says procurement is no longer an obstacle.

Access to Rare Turtle Meat
During the controlled burns BP utilized to control the spread of the oil, workers discovered that a rare and endangered species of sea turtle was being burned alive around the Gulf of Mexico.

Landeau Martinique, a boat captain involved in a three-week effort to rescue the sea turtles in 2010, said BP shut down the operation by preventing boats from coming out to save the turtles.

“They ran us out of there and then they shut us down. They never let us get back in there,” Martinique told authorities.

BP spokesperson Lydia Traffalt contested Martinique’s claim. “People like Landeau Martinique weren’t out there trying to save marine life,” she explained. “They were out there trying to harvest the meat for themselves. We’ve spent billions trying to fix this mess. The way we see it, that meat is ours.”

Controlled burns formed an integral component of BP’s clean up efforts. Fire-resistant booms were used to contain patches of oil. These areas were then lit on fire, burning off the oil and whatever marine life may have been inside.

But in New Orleans today, one year after the disaster, restaurants are recruiting special chefs and altering menus. One elated resident said, “Ever since my shrimping business went under, I haven’t been able to afford turtle soup. It’s a fancy dish round here. Now I understand they’ll be selling turtle meat in bulk, at fast food prices. It almost makes the environmental damage worth the trouble.”
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